Apple Napoleons are easy as pie Entertaining: Elegant dessert is a snap to prepare with store-bought puff pastry and sauce.

October 18, 1998|By Betty Rosbottom HTC | Betty Rosbottom HTC,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

This is the season when our friends and family all love to come for a visit. At no other time of the year is the scenery in New England quite so splendid as during fall, with its colorful foliage. From September to November, our calendar is marked with dates when friends will arrive. So far this autumn, we have had guests on two separate weekends, given two dinner parties and invited many out-of-towners "just passing through" to have appetizers and drinks with us.

This rush of fall entertaining has meant that I have spent extra time in the kitchen. I don't relish devoting unlimited hours to cooking for company, however, so I have made an effort to prepare simple-but-memorable dishes. For some meals, I have served hearty main-course soups or stews with a salad and warm bread. I've grilled fish while basting it with herbed butter and added autumn vegetables as accompaniments. Pan-fried lamb chops atop instant couscous was another entree.

Desserts (always my favorite part of any meal) have included sorbets mounded with fresh fruit as well as single-layer butter cakes dusted with powdered sugar. One confection - Apple Napoleons With Warm Caramel Sauce - was such a hit with guests that I'm going to make it part of my permanent autumn repertoire.

Apple Napoleons With Warm Caramel Sauce

Makes 6 servings

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, about 9 inches square and 1/8 inch thick (half of a 17 1/4-ounce package frozen puff pastry), thawed in refrigerator

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 3/4 teaspoons peeled, minced ginger root

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (color portion of rind)

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tart apples, such as Granny Smiths, peeled, halved lengthwise and cored, cut into 3/8-inch-thick slices, then cut crosswise in half

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

powdered sugar for garnish

1 cup store-bought caramel sauce, heated until warm

6 mint sprigs for garnish

Place pastry sheet on work surface and cut into 6 equal-size rectangles. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees on rack in lower third of oven 15 to 20 minutes until puffed and golden. Remove and cool 10 minutes. Slice pastries horizontally into 2 layers. (Pastries can be baked 2 hours ahead. Leave, uncovered, at cool room temperature.)

In small nonreactive bowl, whisk together sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon ginger root and 1 teaspoon lemon zest. (If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate up to 2 hours. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before using.)

Heat butter in large, heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add apple slices, remaining sugar, remaining 3/4 teaspoon ginger root and 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest along with cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly, until apples are softened but not mushy, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and leave in skillet at cool room temperature up to 2 hours.

When ready to serve, reheat apples, stirring, over medium heat. Spread about 2 1/2 tablespoons sour cream mixture on base of each pastry, top with layer of warmed apple slices, then with lids. Place pastries on 6 individual dessert plates. Dust each with powdered sugar, then drizzle generously with warm caramel sauce. Garnish each with mint sprig.

Pub Date: 10/18/98

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